Many musicians are forced to scale down or even abandon their profession due to injuries caused by playing and practicing their instruments for long hours in unnatural body positions; also, the competition and the high standard expected of performers in the industry causes anxiety and tension in their lives. Increasingly, music schools, conservatories and colleges attempt to cater for these problems by including classes in the Alexander Technique. But young learners can also fall prey to these problems. Performance anxiety is potentially a threat to any musician’s career and can be experienced at all levels of expertise. In the light of this the following research question was tested: Is it possible to substantially reduce performance anxiety (stage fright) in instrumental playing by implementing Alexander Technique principles? The study included a group of twelve school-going children who had been identified as being prone to performance anxiety. They were divided into two groups of six each, one being the experimental group and the other the control group. The experimental group consisted of six flute students who were exposed to selected Alexander Technique principles in their lessons, while the control group consisted of six flute students that were taught by different teachers, who provided no exposure. Both groups were tested at the beginning of the research, before they played an examination, to ascertain the level of performance anxiety they experienced. Eighteen months later, after the experimental group had been exposed to Alexander principles, both groups played another examination and were then tested again to ascertain whether or not the experimental group’s levels of anxiety had been significantly reduced, compared to the control group. The control groups’ second testing was very similar to their first testing and performance anxiety was still a big drawback to their musical performance. Not only was performance anxiety markedly reduced in the experimental group, but their self-esteem and self-confidence were increased as well. As a result it was deduced that young learners can benefit tremendously from learning and applying Alexander Technique principles to the playing of a musical instrument. Copyright
Dissertation (MMus)--University of Pretoria, 2009.